“It’s a boy!” “It’s a girl!”
Your child’s sex has been a part of their life since the moment they were born. Even from an early age children notice differences between the sexes, both in grownups, their peers and of course, if they are being brought up the Montessori Way, in the sex of their dolls.
As your darling child gets older and starts asking more direct and probing questions about the facts of life, if you have never discussed it before, it’s normal to be uncertain as to how best to approach the whole discussion. After all, while there are many ways to go about it, the main thing you are aiming not to do is ‘get it wrong’.
Despite these conversations potentially feeling awkward, they’re immensely important, equipping your child with age-appropriate knowledge of such concepts as bodily autonomy, the correct names for their bodily parts, reproduction, consent—and the birds and the bees, of course.
Thankfully, there’s a book for that, and I am always ready to share helpful recommendations!
1. Amazing You!: Getting Smart About Your Private Parts by Dr. Gail Saltz
This picture book is designed for young children who are at the stage of becoming more aware of their bodies while not yet being ready to learn about sex.
Warm, honest and understanding, Amazing You!: Getting Smart About Your Private Parts presents clear and appropriate details about birth, how babies are made (without the actual nitty gritty) and sex differences, complete with lighthearted illustrations.
Amazing You! also expounds on why you should avoid euphemisms for body parts. If you call an ear an ear and a nose a nose, yet a single area of the body is cryptically referred to as their private parts, your child may think there’s something wrong or scary about their sex organs.
Dr. Gail Saltz easily delineates the important differences between ‘public’ and ‘private’ body parts, while also making clear that the latter category is as normal as the former, and nothing to be ashamed of.
My only complaint with this book is that while boy parts are mentioned clearly, the word vulva is not used for females. I am really hoping that updated books will include this. All the research shows us that the naming of “private parts” is vital in the campaign against those who would have less than good intentions for our young ones.
Amazing You! is still a cracker, and shouldn’t be overlooked.
2. Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys by Dr. Cara Natterson
Dr. Cara Natterson’s got all the answers to help your preadolescent son take care of himself, spanning a wide range of useful topics including haircare, oral health, shaving, healthy eating, acne—and the perennial fear of his voice taking on a life of its own!
Abounding in tips, facts and how-tos, you can rest assured this bona fide knowhow from a fully qualified paediatrician will keep him safe and knowledgeable—most importantly he doesn’t need an awkward sit down with a parent to find out all the answers he is going to need.
Also check out 4 Inspirational Children’s Books for Boys Promoting Bravery and Independence.
3. The Girl’s Body Book by Kelli Dunham
The subtitle says it all: Everything Girls Need to Know for Growing Up! Puberty, periods and peer pressure: preteenhood is a crazy time for girls and Kelli Dunham is the perfect woman to step in and help. Not just because she has written really, really useful books for our children. She is also a former Missionary of Charity (whose nuns I got to know in Kolkata many moons ago), she is a comedian, and has been named one of the Top 25 LGBTQ leaders.
In this fabulous book she does a wonderful job of preparing young female readers for the trials and tribulations ahead.
Covering topics such as confidence, school safety, and hair suddenly appearing in new places, The Girl’s Body Book serves as the ideal go-to whenever your daughter’s asking herself some tough questions about her own body and would rather not talk to you about it.
4. Guy Talk by Lizzie Cox
Aimed at the 9 to 11 year old male audience, this essential guide for the growing young man answers every question your son might be too embarrassed to ask you.
While he is bound to be hearing rumours in the playground, far better to receive their wisdom from Lizzie Cox. Funny yet sensitive to the turbulent and emotional times your son might be going through, Guy Talk lays out practical advice and helpful facts. Topics include romantic relationships, bullying, and staying safe online—making teenhood for boys just a tad less daunting.
Complete with enlightening diagrams, case studies, and ‘real-life’ anonymous readers writing in about their own experiences (and mishaps), this book is a go-to for any young chap approaching puberty.
Click here to buy Guy Talk
5. Who Has What? by Robie H. Harris
Robie Harris has a real passion for translating the strong emotions that children experience into books that help explain to them exactly what is going on.
A fun and accessible book All About Girls’ and Boys’ Bodies (as per the subtitle), Who Has What? follows Gus and Nellie’s trip to the beach, where they ask each other what different people’s bodies look like and why.
Simply and lucidly explained alongside amusing illustrations by Bernard Westcott, the book explains to reproductive anatomy to pre-schoolers in age-appropriate terms, and is a lovely introduction to helping them feel comfortable talking about their bodies.
6. Sex Is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg
This comic book teaches sex education to children aged from 8–10.
Be under no illusion regarding its funny facade and bright pages: Sex Is a Funny Word is far more than a simple rehash of other facts-of-life books—it’s a brilliant gateway to conversations between you and your child.
Sex Is a Funny Word is the perfect pick if you are searching for the perfect book to discuss safety, boundaries, and values, or as their editors succinctly summarised: a book about bodies, feelings and you.
7. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris
Another fabulous book from Robie Harris, subtitled Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health, this book dives deep into every imaginable question your preadolescent child could have floating around their inquisitive young mind.
Dealing with topics like puberty, conception and adoption, it also delves unflinchingly into the far more difficult terrain of subjects like contraception, AIDS, gender and hepatitis.
It’s Perfectly Normal offers your growing child everything they need to go out in the world as an informed young person, giving them the ability to make responsible decisions of their own accord.
8. The Boy’s Body Book by Kelli Dunham
As a lad hits puberty, it can feel like his body’s gone berserk: things don’t behave the way he’s accustomed to, and nothing can be predicted.
The world grows shaky—and right at the same it’s become harder than ever to talk to his Mum and Dad about his concerns, his innermost anxieties. He needs straight answers—and fast.
Enter: The Boy’s Body Book. Relatable, readable and reassuring, Kelli Dunham covers myriad worries running through a young man’s head.
Dunham delves deeply – explaining body hair, hygiene, exercise, sex, peer pressure, voice changes and sibling rivalry, as well as the ever-pressing pressure of schoolwork—all compounded, of course, by the daily rollercoaster ride of teenage emotions, impacted as they are by their fast developing brains.
9) The Girls’ Guide to Growing Up by Anita Naik
Anita Naik’s friendly and positive handbook for girls approaching puberty explains the changes that will happen to their bodies,
She describes how they’ll likely make the reader feel, and reassures girls that these changes are normal—as are the potentially volatile and unpredictable emotions they’ll experience.
Covering a wide variety of topics including bodily changes, bras, skin changes, body hair and hygiene, Naik helps girls feel optimistic about the future, while empathising with them that teenagehood can be tough.
10. It’s NOT the Stork! by Robie H. Harris
Proving just how great Robie Harris’s books are, I’ve included a third!
Every parent knows there never appears to be an end to young kids’ curiosity, and as we often discover – they are not afraid to ask the big questions.
What makes me a boy? What makes her a girl? Why are some parts of our bodies the same while others are totally different? Where did I come from? Where did my siblings come from? Does the stork really bring babies to mums and dads?
As Harris gently explains to these young and wondering minds, It’s NOT the Stork!—in fact, the truth is even more amazing!
Lively, sensitive and engaging, the book teaches children all about their bodies and their bodies’ various functions, while a curious little bird and a squeamish young bee provide comic relief, emoting in all the ways Harris knows her young readers will be too.